Two Poems by Shannon Phillips

On being told what to do

A friend and I nestle in the center

of a traffic circle at night

on a bench perched in front of a water

fountain shifting red white and blue

under its sculptured skirt.

Sirens glare toward us.

I remember my son telling me, “Mommy,

Mrs. Arias at school said we should say

‘God have mercy’

whenever we hear an ambulance.”

He is asleep at home now.

My mouth obeys.

A young tattooed couple prefer a green

white and red blanket to a bench, unconcerned

about the cockroach we at first thought was a cricket.

Somehow I don't mind my friend’s advice,

“make up with your sisters.”

Such intimate heft would collapse others.

Now: for my mouth to obey.

Would he notice

the tiny drop of menstrual blood

on his white bath mat,

a red jewel despite the dead

microscopic tissue contained within it.

Toweling dry,

I’d just gotten out of the shower.

It’s starting to develop an

imperfect border, a sort of

corona around it,

like the sun.

Shannon Phillips is a freelance editor and an aspiring translator. Her most recent chapbook, Body Parts, was published by dancing girl press in 2017.